As my world has begun to shrink, my wanderlust has begun to expand.
I keep reading books and blogs about travel and this desire continues to build up in me like the water behind a damn that is about to break. I was window shopping vacation rentals in Paris yesterday; imagining renting one for about six months and getting to write, walk the streets of Paris, learn some proper French and sit in a cafe and watch the world go by.
A Stephanie Rosenbloom article “Solo in Paris” in the May 2nd New York Times nicely sums up how I would love to spend my time.
“Indeed, the city has a centuries-old tradition of solo exploration, personified by the flâneur, or stroller. Flânerie is, in its purest form, a goal-less pursuit, though for some it evolved into a purposeful art: Walking and observing became a method of understanding a city, an age. Baudelaire described the flâneur as a passionate spectator, one who was fond of “botanizing on the asphalt,” as the essayist Walter Benjamin would later put it. Typically, it was a man. No longer.”
With observation and people watching being favorite pastimes this excerpt from the Ms. Rosenbloom’s article encapsulates the idea perfectly;
“To refuel, I stopped by a favorite among my friends, Le Comptoir du Relais, a cozy maroon bistro where English is hardly spoken. I walked in around 4:30, which meant I had no trouble getting lunch. Tall panes of glass were flung open, letting in the sidewalk, the better for gawking at passers-by, which I did shamelessly while eating salmon with wasabi and turnips. Places like this, where one looks out as others look in, are ideal for solo travelers. I had that exquisite feeling described by Baudelaire in “The Painter of Modern Life,” in which you “see the world,” are “at the center of the world,” and yet “remain hidden from the world.””
I also found this wonderful blog post yesterday on Medium by Keegan Jones, Lessons From A Year of Solo Travel. He has some great observations and interesting tips and information about seeing the world. The first one was that he planned to spent less than $33/ day on accommodations but after a year on the road he spent less;
“Travel can be affordable.
Long term travel is different than a luxury vacation. The point is to see the world, not stay in a 5-star hotel. During the trip, I stayed on a strict budget. The goal was to spend no more than $33 per day on accommodations. After a year, I was able to spend only $26.15 per day by booking through HostelWorld and Airbnb. When I wanted to meet people, I’d stay in a shared room at a hostel. When I wanted to be alone, I’d book a private room with Airbnb.”
He also posted a picture of the limited possessions and clothes that he traveled with over his year of travel. Maybe 30 items.
“I have lived with a few things in a backpack for a year. I have been perfectly content. It’s a fantastic feeling to walk off an airplane with a single carry-on backpack. I didn’t buy a single souvenir because I had no extra space in my backpack. I have become more conscious about things I want versus things that I need. The less you own, the better. Otherwise, your possessions will own you. Living this way is a privilege. It affords the flexibility to easily move, live in less space, worry less, and spend less to buy bigger and better things.”
This was the most appealing part of the story to me, shedding all the possessions that are weighing me down and getting down to the basic necessities of life with maybe a few luxuries in there for fun.
And this quote, from the author Jon Krakauer, that he included also got me thinking.
““Make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun. If you want to get more out of life, you must lose your inclination for monotonous security and adopt a helter-skelter style of life that will at first appear to you to be crazy. But once you become accustomed to such a life you will see its full meaning and its incredible beauty.” ― Jon Krakauer”
I have always been the responsible planner that makes sure the trip is planned, the bills are paid, the next job is lined up, the birthday cards are mailed and on and on. I would like to escape the “monotonous security” for a while. I know my opportunity will come, I am working on being ready for it when the time is right!
How about you any secret travel lust?
I did, and took the plunge almost a year and a half ago now into full blown nomadhood. It’s been filled with ups and downs, but it’s been worth it. Not because I’ve had a great time. I spent about 30% of that time sick, as my body started to cave in and surrender to the long term stresses of the life before, with travel stresses on top of it. But it gave me resilience, courage and problem solving capabilities because every day calls for that. To be able to live simply and focus on the external world rather than live in a way being settled in an urban/suburban setting conditions us to (i, me, mine) is liberating and very very enlightening.
The perceived difficulties are easier than they seem – there isn’t a a thug around every corner, it’s actually pretty cheap to live on the road if you’re adaptable, you’re probably more adaptable than you think you are, and you’re generally as ready as you’ll ever be.
The most surprising things are more difficult than they seem – being sick somewhere unfamiliar really sucks, and removal of the basic things we take for granted (for me it was drinking water from the tap, available restrooms everywhere, and being able to walk around in my clothing of choice, among others) are often unpleasant, but adapting is all part of it.
I would make the same decision again.
(Didn’t meant to write such a long comment!)
Charlene – your pictures and stories from your travels are one of my inspirations and favorite reads.
My husband was very sick for 10 days on one of our trips to Europe and I was there to take care of him, I can only imagine being ill on your own somewhere really unfamiliar – but it is wonderful to hear the upside – “resilience, courage and problem solving” – of some of the downsides of your traveler life.
We really do take some of the luxuries of life for granted – drinking water at the turn of the tap, electricity with a flip of the switch and huge grocery stores with inexpensive food open 24 hours.
Thank you for adding your comments to my post!
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